Embargoed materials for Complementary & Integrative Medicine Conference

ting Author: Petra Elena Eichelsdoerfer, ND, MS, RPh
Bastyr University
Kenmore, WA

Quality Assurance and Lactobacillus-Containing Dietary Supplements Commercially Available in Washington State

While bacteria and other microorganisms are often given a bad rap because some can cause potentially dangerous diseases, some microorganisms are essential to healthy living-for example, bacteria living in the gut and intestines are important for digestion and illness or antibiotic treatment that disturbs them can cause diarrhea.

Probiotic supplements, which contain helpful bacteria such as those in the genus Lactobacillus, inhibit pathogenic bacteria, prevent antibiotic-caused diarrhea, and may help in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. But because these supplements contain live microorganisms, they're susceptible to contamination and loss of viability during manufacturing, shipping, and storage.

Therefore, researchers evaluated probiotic supplements labeled to contain Lactobacillus and sold across Washington State for viability, contamination, label accuracy, storage recommendations, and price at the point of purchase by the consumer. Their data will be presented at The North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, May 24th-27th, 2006.

Lactobacillus dietary supplements are available to the public through many sources including pharmacies and health food stores. In their analysis of 94 samples, the investigators found that 83 (88%) samples proved viable, and of these, lab results matched manufacturer labeling exactly for seven (8%) products, while 42 (51%) products contained at least one organism that matched labeling at both genus and species level. Seventy-three (88%) products contained organisms matching labeling at the genus level. Finally, 67 (71%) of products contained at least one organism not listed on the label, and eight (10%) had


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